Air Canada’s strict new employee vaccine policy could set new workplace bar: experts

From City News 1130 – link to source story

BY THE CANADIAN PRESS AND CLAIRE FENTON | Aug 27, 2021

Grounded Air Canada planes sit on the tarmac at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

CALGARY — Air Canada won’t offer rapid testing as an alternative to employees who refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The airline says it will require all employees to be vaccinated by Oct. 30. Those who don’t have a valid reason for not having their shots could be fired.

Most companies that have said they’ll require employees to get the jab are giving unvaccinated employees the option of submitting to regular COVID-19 testing instead. But experts say Air Canada’s tougher stance could set a new bar.

Employment lawyer Chantel Goldsmith says Air Canada’s policy is legal. But the airline must accommodate those who have a medical condition or other valid reason for not having their shots.

She says otherwise it could create a legal issue.

It’s expected many other companies will be looking at Air Canada’s announcement to see what steps they will apply to their own staff, especially as many workers plan to head back to the office.

Until the move, Porter Airlines was the lone airline to require its staff be fully immunized.

It’s expected more announcements of mandatory vaccine policies will be ahead across the country as all of Canada’s federally regulated industries must come up with plans to get their workers vaccinated by the end of October.

WestJet and Transat say they are still developing their employee vaccination policies. But the pilots’ union for those airlines has told its members it rejects threats of termination based on vaccine status.

The Canadian government also announced earlier this month that it will mandate vaccines for commercial air travellers.

With files from Kayla Butler